When Your Self-Esteem is Attacked

While we all know that we shouldn’t pay attention to the things bullies say, protecting our self-esteem isn’t that easy when faced with someone who is dehumanizing and denigrating you.

Bullies put people down. It’s what they do.  Their reasons for doing this vary, but it basically has to do with power. They may be trying to hide their own insecurities by pointing out the flaws of others. Or they may simply be grooming someone for social exclusion.

When you are targeted by a bully it is hard not to take it personally. After all, you are being ostracized by a group when this happens and we feel ostracism as physical pain.

Plus, we all have our flaws and most of us are insecure about our flaws so when someone points it out we are only too willing to agree with them.  

Finally, if there weren’t something wrong with you, you wouldn’t be targeted, right?  Wrong. Even if there is nothing wrong with you, you might still get targeted. Often bullies just chose people out of convenience, not because of any dislike of the individual. Their methods of attack have to do with the most convenient ways to socially ostracize a person. It is rarely personal.

If you are being bullied, what are some of the ways to raise your self-esteem?  The first thing you should do is to learn how to get bullies to leave you alone. (See The Bully Vaccine book for information on how to do this).  If you can stop a bully from bullying you, you will feel empowered and will know that the bully is the person with the problem not you. It really does amazing things for your self-esteem.

Beyond that Psychology Central has several suggestions on what you can do. (see: http://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-raise-your-self-esteem/)

One way is to slow down on personalizing what is happening. This is why you keep being told, this isn’t about you – it’s about the bully and their problems. The more you can feel sorry for the bully being so damaged they behave poorly, the less you will take their behavior, which is targeting you, personally.

Another way to help your self-esteem is to acknowledge your emotional reaction but choose your response. Yes, being told you are a horrible person hurts. But that doesn’t mean you have to retaliate or show that you are hurt. Choosing your response helps you to be strategic in your response (which is important when you are trying to get the behavior to stop).  It will also help you to appear more professional in the workplace. While the other person is acting like a school yard bully, you are a professional adult – that’s something you can and should feel proud of.

For more information on how to protect yourself and your children from bullies check out the Bully Vaccine Project website.

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